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Local Foods to nourish a war-torn city.

Souk el Tayeb (good market in Arabic) is a farmers market in the heart of Beirut. Brave foodie and social innovator, Kamal Mouzawak opened Lebanon's first farmers market in the wake of the 2006 war, helping the country recover by sharing local food.

Photo of Adriana Valdez Young
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Souk el Tayeb is more than just a place to buy locally grown and prepared foods in Beirut.  In a country divided by decades of wars, it is a way of reclaiming the heart of the city as a neutral gathering ground for people from all villages, religions, and generations to participate in one of the country's greatest renewable resource: FOOD! To celebrate this rich culinary history and the resiliency of its farming communities is the basis of Souk el Tayeb's mission.  At Tawlet, the market's restaurant, a different guest cook prepares a family-style lunch to share the unique traditions of her village with hungry Beirutis.

Beyond bringing people together, Souk el Tayeb offers a sustainable, social business model in these ways:
1. Increasing the market for local producers through the weekly downtown market, its restaurant and by packaging their products for sale at local supermarkets. 
2. Creating collaborations across religion, region, politics, and disciplines in the name of selling, making and celebrating high-quality, local foods.
3.  Opening up opportunities for women to share their culinary knowledge and heritage by guest-chefing at the restaurant, giving cooking classes, and participating in food festivals and other events organized throughout the year.

Through a program I started via the Parsons School of Design called CITY AS LAB, three of my students worked with Kamal and his team to build their educational programs, create a design proposal for a new eco-market, and develop a zero-waste system for the restaurant.  Souk el Tayeb is committed to continuously improving and innovating on its business model to better contribute to healing the country and opening up economic opportunities for its community of farmers and makers.

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Photo of Anne-Laure

Hi Adriana,
thanks for sharing. This is a great idea. I like the fact that this model is not only about the local producers, but it is also educational providing opportunities for women to share their knowledge, and how at the end it creates many connections between different groups.Nice also to see how food can go beyond religious, regional and political differences.
In one of my classes where we discuss national culture, I experienced with this by asking all students to bring a dish from their country. It is always a great success with students proud of sharing their national food, and to see others trying them and enjoying them. Last year, I remember several students also commenting on how they realized that food was at the core of so many cultures.
It made me realized that there are quite a bit of inspirations about food as a sign of vibrancy, or as creating vibrancy in this challenge. I think it might make sense to check the food consumption / food production challenge http://www.openideo.com/open/localfood/brief.html as I remember many great inspirations there.
For example (these are only a few):
inspirations such as:
http://www.openideo.com/open/localfood/inspiration/la-cocina-gives-new-food-entrepreneurs-their-jumpstart
http://www.openideo.com/open/localfood/inspiration/connecting-regional-produced-food-to-everyone
http://www.openideo.com/open/localfood/inspiration/supporting-immigrants-with-the-the-new-farmer-development-project-

concepts such as:
http://www.openideo.com/open/localfood/concepting/public-kitchen/
http://www.openideo.com/open/localfood/concepting/regional-food-systemcommercial-kitchenfood-entrepreneur-incubatorcollaborative-community/

BTW your course seems really interesting. The link did not work. I'll try to check it out.
al

Photo of Adriana

Thanks so much for links Anne-Laure!
I will definitely use these references for my students.
I just updated the link to my class, but just in case here goes:
http://cityaslab.com/

Photo of Anne-Laure

Glad you found the links useful. I think they might also be useful for this challenge.
Thanks for the link to your course. I had a quick look and it looks great! We might have the opportunity to discuss more one of these days (I'm also based in NY). cheers, al

Photo of Adriana

Hi! I'm currently based in London, but I checkout your site and your teaching practice seems really interesting. Please send me links to your course blogs if you have them.

Photo of Anne-Laure

I spent a year in London 2 years ago... :-) I'll send you links.

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